Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/11/2016 (1199 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Winnipeg has arrived. Or, rather, pizza and beer delivered to your door has arrived.
It’s brought to you by HopsPizza.com — a company brewed up by Winnipeg entrepreneurs who believe they have "a match made in heaven" they were able to marry with home delivery thanks to modernized liquor regulations in Manitoba, said co-owner Terry Davison.
"Over the last two years we had this concept of being able to deliver beer and pizza," said Davison, a software developer who built Hops Pizza’s online ordering system. "The challenge was all all the regulations around it." He said they met with the provincial Liquor and Gaming Authority a few times and figured out how to make it work.
"It wasn’t that difficult," said Davison, who co-owns the business along with brothers Anthony and Angelo Paletta. "They were very willing to work with us."
In 2014, the Liquor and Gaming Authority of Manitoba became the new regulator for liquor and gaming in the province. It brought together regulatory services that had been provided by the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission and the Manitoba Gaming Control Commission. The new authority developed some new rules that allowed for more flexibility in liquor licensing.
"It was an effort at modernizing services and decreasing red tape," said authority spokeswoman Kaylee Maslowsky. "It allows us to make changes as we need to to suit the circumstances."
The new rules allowed a business like Hops Pizza to get off the ground, delivering beer and pizza to the hungry and thirsty at home.
"It was important for the LGA (Liquor and Gaming Authority) to level the playing field by allowing beer vendors to offer delivery service, as Liquor Marts had been allowed to do this for years," said Maslowsky.
Hops Pizza built their kitchens into existing hotels with licensed beer vendors, said Davison. They gave their delivery drivers all the age-verification training that beer vendor staff would receive. "We’ve been very transparent and worked closely with the Liquor and Gaming Authority," said Davison.
"We really wanted to make sure we stayed on side with the regulations," he said. Technically, delivering beer with pizza to people’s homes wasn’t the biggest obstacle, said Davison.
"The challenge was building a business case around it and ensuring the appropriate ROI (return on investment)." He said his only experience in the pizza business was delivering pizzas 25 years ago for D-Jay’s Restaurant in St. James.
"We didn’t want to come out with a gimmick," said Davison. "We put a lot of time and effort into developing a really good pizza," he said. "We have fresh ingredients and our dough and sauce are consistent across all locations — and it’s at a reasonable price, too."
His favourite, he said, is the Hungry Heffer (sic) with beef, salami, bacon, ham, sausage and double cheese ($19.99 for an extra-large) paired with Alexander Keith’s (a six-pack of cans costs $12.52).
Before they got started, he and his business partners could find no other pizza and beer home-delivery service offered in Canada, he said.
"We’re quite excited working with the concept — it’s a progressive idea," said Davison, who developed the online ordering technology Hops Pizza and all of its franchises will use. They learned liquor regulations concerning home delivery will present similar challenges in every province.
The first Hops Pizza kitchen opened last week in the Holiday Inn on Ellice Avenue. They deliver to Tuxedo, River Heights, Linden Woods, St. James and part of downtown. They’re expanding in Winnipeg with two more locations opening Tuesday.
"We’ll cover about 50 per cent of the city," he said. They’ve got their sites set on further expansion.
"Other locations are coming on board shortly," Davison said. More Manitobans will soon be able to order pizza and beer from the comfort of their homes, he predicted. "Brandon, Portage and Thompson are coming on line in the very near future."
For more go to hopspizza.com or call (866) 266-4677.
Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.
Updated on Monday, November 14, 2016 at 9:56 PM CST: added photo